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Ethel Rohan

Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Potomac Review, and Los Angeles Review among many others. Cut Through the Bone was Long Listed as a notable collection by the 2010 Story Prize.


“Rohan’s stories are, more than anything else, about loss . . . and about the odd, endearing, and desperate ways that people fill the void or ignore it.”


“These stories create a sense of loss in the reader, an ache, but thankfully they avoid dull cynicism. Instead, they bear witness to the difficulty of living for oneself while sacrificing for others."

– Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine

“In this unforgettable collection, Rohan reveals her mastery in finding the danger of ordinary objects, the way they come alive when her characters hold them in their hands.”

– Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

"This is a marvelous collection, filled with moments that startle and shatter."

– Laura van den Berg, author of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

" . . . beautiful and inventive, tender and absurd, quirky and heartbreaking, dark and strange and devastating."

– Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody,

"Ethel Rohan’s women, despite their wounds, are strong of spirit."

– William Walsh, author of Pathologies

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Cut Through the Bone

Godspeed, Cut Through the Bone


It’s a small, strange feeling to be typing this last post for this month. I’m taking Friday and Monday off for the holidays, and I hope you all do as well, and enjoy the weekend, whether you’re particularly patriotic or not.

I have to admit, I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten to spend so much time with a book since college, and am not sure I’ve felt as intimate with a bundle of pages in the 5 years now I’ve been out of school. Looking over the past month, I can’t help but make that comparison.

I’m hardly a professor, but what I feel like has happened here in the past month is reminiscent of what used to happen back at Ball State, when we’d spend a few weeks as a class close-reading some book. One class in particular taught by Patrick Collier about Modernist literature of the early 20th century, was structured much the same way. We spent 2-3 weeks reading a novel, coming to class every MWF, and discussing it at great length, reflecting, responding.

But what else has happened here I never found in any class, and perhaps it’s due in large part to the openness and vulnerability of Cut Through the Bone, of Ethel’s writing, that allowed us to get away from such a clinical, critical approach to the reading. We bared our own bones here this last month, and I’m truly grateful you’ve all followed along and taken part in the discussions and shared all you’ve shared.

I have to admit, I had apprehensions leading into the launch of The Lit Pub. Molly and I put a lot of work and thought into this whole endeavor, Molly especially, and with any grand baby like this, there’s always the fear of flop and failure. But I don’t feel failure in the slightest. Looking back on this month, I see nothing but light.

So thanks to everyone for getting so involved in this, for sharing what you’ve shared. I’ve been amazed at the sheer vulnerability of everyone here, and the smart answers to hard questions, and the grace in hard subjects. Thanks so incredibly much to Ethel for being so active in the conversation, and all the ways she helped to push and promote not just her own featured book, but all the work by Molly and Mike this past month at TLP.

I’ll be back next Wednesday with a new book (hint: it’s from a Chicago press), and I hope we have just as excellent a time with that book as we did with Cut Through the Bone!

Happy holiday weekend everyone! Eat some beer brats (or veggie shish kababs if you’re not of the carnivorous persuasion) and enjoy some summer sun!

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  1. Ethel Rohan said on 06/29/11 at 2:12 pm Reply

    Chris, you’ve done a stellar job here this month and I remain touched and indebted. I’m emotional,truth be told, and feel both relieved and saddened that such intense focus will shift away from Cut Through the Bone.

    I feel incredibly lucky to have my first book honored in this special way at The Lit Pub and I thank you, Chris, and Molly and Mike and everyone else who contributed to the wonderful discussion threads here throughout this surreal month.

    I look forward to continuing this journey with you all and wish you the best of success with this worthy endeavor.




    Chris Newgent said on 06/29/11 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you, Ethel, for all the kind words and support and smart, wonderful things you said in the various comment conversations throughout the month. I couldn’t have picked a better book to launch my tenure at TLP with.

    DK said on 07/01/11 at 3:37 pm

    Seconding what Ethel said – there’s been a lot of really interesting conversation surrounding this book, and it’s been a lot of fun to observe/take part in.

  2. xtx said on 06/29/11 at 3:09 pm Reply

    Great books for a great first month! I look forward to watching this site grow and succeed!


  3. Dawn. said on 06/29/11 at 11:01 pm Reply

    I really enjoyed all the wonderful words this month, Chris. CTTB is a fabulous book and was well worth the time. Now I can’t wait to find out what your new book is. 🙂


  4. Mike Young said on 06/30/11 at 1:27 am Reply

    great work all month, chris! you and molly are doing a slambang job, and much kudos to ethel for all her awesome participation and her even more awesome book.


  5. Ethel Rohan said on 06/30/11 at 9:44 am Reply

    Thank you, xTx, for visiting and commenting. I’m grateful to see you here.

    Thanks again, Dawn, for all your support here and elsewhere, and your many contributions to the discussion threads this month. You’re wonderful.

    Thank you, Mike! I’m a fan of you and your work and am encouraged by and very grateful for your kind words.


    Dawn. said on 07/01/11 at 12:33 am

    Aw. Thank you, Ethel, for the kind words and the lovely books. Looking forward to reading more of your work. 🙂

  6. Jordan Blum said on 06/30/11 at 12:33 pm Reply

    Congrats on a great month, Chris! It’s a wonderful feeling to be apart of The Lit Pub and have such interesting and poignant discussions. I look forward to a whole new slew next month. Have a great weekend too.


  7. Richard Thomas said on 06/30/11 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Thanks for shining a light on CTTB, Chris. I loved this collection, and it introduced me to a powerful new voice, on that will be on my radar moving forward. Thanks Ethel for putting it all out there and not holding back, and for doing it with such grace and generosity towards others. Kudos.


  8. Erika said on 06/30/11 at 3:42 pm Reply

    It was an amazing month! Great job Chris & it was so great working with you Ethel. Truly feel lucky to be part of such a great team!! xo, e


  9. Kimberly Southwick said on 06/30/11 at 10:06 pm Reply

    So far so good, guys! I am interested to see how the site matures. Nice to read about doubts and challenges to the Lit Pub, though it’s confidence in its mission is definitely one of its strengths.


  10. Jen said on 07/01/11 at 1:03 am Reply

    Sorry to slide in a comment in July, but I didn’t want to miss out on saying thank you for taking me on an amazing 30 day journey exploring Ethel Rohan’s, Cut Through the Bone.
    I liked what you said, Chris, about being back in the classroom at Ball State exploring great literature as a group. I think CTTB lends itself perfecting to dissection, discussion, and discovery. I have read the stories several times, and it freaks me out a bit how through each read I relate more with the characters and see more of myself in their tangled world. I was glad to see through this forum that others feel the same way!
    Bravo, Chris, on your efforts and insights this month!
    On a side note, I’m not sure if you are from Indiana, but it is fun to see we share a Hoosier connection. I grew up in Indy and attended IU. Best of luck to you and the crew at the Lit Pub!


  11. Nora Nadjarian said on 07/01/11 at 2:24 am Reply

    All the best Ethel, and the Lit Pub! I have no idea what time it is in your part of the world (so I think I’ve missed the deadline) but I thought I’d post this anyway…


  12. Emily Lackey said on 07/01/11 at 1:46 pm Reply

    Witnessing Ethel’s engagement in these discussions has really upped my enthusiasm for The Lit Pub and everything it’s striving to do. Thanks so much for participating so actively, Ethel! It’s such a unique component that The Lit Pub offers: author participation!


    Ethel Rohan said on 07/01/11 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you, Jen. XX

    Thanks too, Nora.

    Thank you, Emily. I wish I could have had even more time to participate in these many discussions here this month. I wear too many hats, in particular ‘Mom’ since early June when our daughters’ started their summer break.

    Thank you for your excellent contributions to the various threads here.

    I plan to stick around and enjoy the other books and writers getting special attention here throughout July, and hope everyone else will also join me!


  13. Molly Gaudry said on 07/01/11 at 2:43 pm Reply

    Ethel is the powerhouse to beat all powerhouses. I was going to wait to leave my comment until Monday, which is the day Mike Young and I will both be leaving our farewell notes (though mine isn’t so much a farewell as it it will be a first-month recap of sorts), but I just want to say that it’s been amazing to have Ethel be such an incredible force behind helping us launch TLP. It’s this same generosity of sprit, time, and effort, that has always impressed me about Ethel, and I’m so glad she was able to be a part of our inaugural efforts. Many hugs and kisses, Ethel. I’ll probably write more Monday. Until then, xo.


  14. Ethel Rohan said on 07/02/11 at 12:06 am Reply

    And the Winner of the $100 Gift Certificate to Spend at The Lit Pub Is …




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